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Paris Mideast Peace conference urges respect for Final Status process
January 16, 2017, 8:35 am

Participants at French-sponsored Middle East Peace Conference Sunday warned Israelis and Palestinians against by-passing Final Status process by taking "unilateral actions" that would jeopardise already fragile peace process and provoke violence.

Some 75 nations and organisations spent the day reinforcing their will to support the peace process and particularly the Two State solution that is increasingly threatened by Israeli settlement expansion and subsequent violence between Israelis and Palestinians.

In a wrap-up press conference, French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault stressed that participants at the well-attended conference were staunchly supportive of a two-state solution which had been discussed since the morning session.

"This solution, which is the only viable one for the future, is gravely threatened today" he said. "It is threatened by (Israeli) settlement-building and the pursuit of violence," he remarked.

In its final statement, the Conference warned both parties to desist from actions that would provoke further violence and told Israel and the Palestinians to refrain from unilateral measures, a warning largely aimed at Israeli settlement policy and expropriation of Arab land in the West Bank and Jerusalem.

"It is urgent to avoid all unilateral actions that could enflame even more the situation on the ground in Jerusalem and elsewhere," Ayrault said.

The reference to Jerusalem recalled a statement earlier Sunday by Ayrault in which he warned the United States of "extremely serious consequences" if it relocated its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, a step promised by President-elect Donald Trump.

The final statement also calls for a solution respecting the 1967 borders, which Arab nations insist must be a key parameter for delineating borders of the new Palestinian State.

An agreement within the 1967 border framework would require some land swaps but also would force Israel to evacuate significant settlements that are deemed illegal by the international community, in any event.

Israel has hundreds of thousands of settlers now living in the occupied West Bank, which would come under Palestinian sovereignty under agreements currently on the table.

Moreover, recent Israeli action to authorise and legalise settlements on Arab lands that were previously ruled as illegal outposts has sent shockwaves through countries trying to broker a peace deal and largely led to the condemnation of Israel's settlement policy by the UN Security Council last December. The conference final statement made a clear call for avoiding any "incitement" by either party.

France says that work will continue after Sunday's conference to seek to provide a framework and incentives for peace between Israel and Palestine, incentives that will include economic measures, practical support for the functioning of a future Palestinian State, and efforts to create bonds between Civil Society in both communities.

Israel solidly rejected the French peace initiatives and sought to ridicule the conference. Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu refused an offer to visit Paris after the event and be briefed by President Francois Hollande.

The Israeli leader labelled the conference "insignificant" and "futile" and archaic, and he said the future was what he saw as pertinent - presumably once Trump takes office with an announced pro-Israeli position.

He accused France and the Palestinians of seeking to impose conditions on Israel and of undermining the peace efforts. Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas is expected shortly in the French capital to hear the results of Sunday's gathering.

Source: KUNA

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